2001 HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENT
Redlands Area Historical Society
Walker E. & Belle M. Bell Home
640 West Fern Avenue
This Pueblo Revival Style home is located on the northeast corner of Fern Avenue and Center Street. The unique design built by Walker E. Bell in 1921. Mr. Bell worked for the Inland Theatre Company. The Redlands Daily Facts, dated March 26, 1921, touted this home as one of the “most beautiful of the new homes” which were under construction at the time and described it as “pure Spanish in type.” This two-story home features rough textured, hand stucco plaster, flat roof with stepped parapet, characteristic pueblo style rounded corners containing weep holes high on the exterior walls, a porte-cochère, and large bay windows with red tile hood overhang. The front of the house is symmetrical in design with a protruding front porch with arch openings leading to the front door.
The 1,720 square feet of living space is contained on two floors with the central two story portion in a rectangular configuration. The larger first floor is square in shape and wraps around the central two-story section on three sides. This first floor has a more exaggerated parapet roof line, especially over the protruding front porch where there are three small indented parabolic arch accents. The front of the house is symmetrical in design with the porch, a perfect rectangle projecting out in the middle with an arch opening on each side. The larger central semi-circular archway, which leads to the beautiful wood trimmed front door consisting of three small panes of glass across the top and three elongated glass panes below along with matching side lights, has two identical rectangular cutouts on either side. Adding to the perfect symmetry of the front are two large fixed picture windows with stuccoed lug sills and protected red tile hoods on either side of the front porch. In contrast, the second story windows are each two sash divided by an upright bar with wood trim slip sills which open in.
In 1921, one of the interesting features of this home was the two-car garage with an attached room. The garage, to the northeast side of the property, is detached beyond a porte-cochere of open sides.
Other early well-known business families in Redlands also occupied this house. Neil Duncan and his wife, co-owners of the Redlands Shoe Parlor on State Street lived there until 1912. Herbert W. Gowland, partner in Gowland Brothers Sporting Goods on 5th Street resided there with his family beginning in 1919. John Costelle, who had a furniture store on Orange Street resided there for approximately eight years until 1931.
Other owners were: Sidney H. Burchell, listed as an author and his wife, Florence J. from 1914 to 1917; Philip J. Keyser and his wife, Helen are listed in the city directory from 1947 to 1958; Oliver and Hazel Strandberg also resided in the house from 1961 to 1967.
The present owners, Anne and Allen Brett, purchased the home from the Strandbergs in 1967 and have lived there for the past 22 years, raising their family. The Bretts have restored the house and grounds to its traditional look and retained its beauty by careful attention to the details of this vintage home.
The Bretts are to be commended for their diligent time and effort, done with an obvious love for its past history, preserving one on Redlands’ historic resources.
Research by Doris Gentry.